Types of Foster Care

Types of Foster Care

Children that come into care have a variety of different needs and as such some of our Fosters Carers specialise in different “types” of foster care. As you go through your assessment with your Social Worker, you will have the opportunity to work out together which types of fostering placements you may be able to offer. Whichever type of foster care you are interested in providing, we will offer you a whole range of training and support to help you grow your knowledge so you can offer the best care possible.

We have listed below the different types of Foster Care placements and a little bit of information on each one, however as above, if you are working your way through the assessment process your Social Worker will discuss these with you in much more detail so that you are comfortable in what kind of placements you are offering.

Short Term Fostering

This is by far the most common type of fostering placement that is utilised and is for children and young people who need to be supported and cared for on a temporary basis. The length of time a child would need a short term placement can vary drastically depending on their specific circumstances but could range from anything from a couple of days to a couple of years. We have listed below some of the reasons children and young people may need you to help them with a short term placement:

–       Their family is currently going through care proceedings / assessments. In these instances the child or young person remains in foster care whilst decisions are being made by social workers and family court as to who will be best suited to care for that child until in the future. From this a child may be returned to their birth parent(s) or wider family, it may be recommended that the child is adopted or that they should remain in long term foster care (see below)

–       Family assessments / court have deemed that it would be unsafe for them to return to their birth family, and they are now waiting to be matched with a long term fostering \ adoptive home.

–       Their parents/carers are unwell and not able to provide the care that a child needs, an example of this may be a single parent with little to no support network, needing to go into hospital.

–       To provide a short respite break for Parents / Carers, particularly where the child or young person has complex health needs or disabilities.

–       Their parents / carers are finding it difficult to cope caring for the child at that particular time, this could be due to things such such as challenging child behaviour or acute family stress

Long Term Fostering / Permanent Fostering

Sadly, for some children and young people, returning to birth parents or wider family is not an option. Long term fostering placements are offered to ensure that children are given stability with one family, who they will stay with until adulthood. Long Term Foster Carers are different to adopters (see below) however the child / young person still experiences the consistency of having the same Foster Carer / Family as they grow up and are allowed to become an integral part of the family unit. The benefits for this are huge. The difference that you can make to a child in a matter of months is significant, so then think of the sense of belonging within your immediate and wider family you create for them and the impact you can make have when you are able to provide years’ worth of support, safety, encouragement, nurturing. This secure base (hyperlink secure base word to a fact sheet ???) forms the foundation for your child or young person to thrive, and as a long term foster carer you are able to see first hand the continued progress and positive attachments being made.

A child remains in a long term placement until they are 18, however where needed at this point there is opportunity to convert the placement into “staying put” meaning that the placement can continue for a few more years (link word to staying put section). Often, young people in long term placements become part of the family and even once they have moved on and have their own home, relationships continue with you becoming an important part of each other’s lives.

How is long-term fostering different to Adopting a child?

Although there are similarities, they key difference is that when you adopt a child, they become your child legally and parental rights for their birth parents are terminated are transferred to the adoptive parent. The below are things to keep in mind when comparing the two:

–       There are times that adoption may not be possible for a child, or a they may have expressed that they do not want to be adopted. In these instances, and where it is unsafe for them to return to their birth family, long term foster care can offer similar long-term stability and belonging.

–       As a long-term Foster Carers the legal parental responsibility for the child or young person remains with the placing local authority and parents, therefore the support from social workers and ongoing training  etc will remain in place.

–       As an adopter, there are no weekly allowances/payments made towards the cost of the child(ren) whereas in a long-term fostering placements carers will continue to receive their payments for fostered children and young people until they reach 18 years old (or longer if staying put)


Respite Foster Carers, look after children on a short-term basis. This is usually to provide birth parents or other Foster Carers with a short break. Most often, but not exclusively, these types of fostering placements are used where a child or young person requires more intensive care due to complex health or emotional needs.

These short breaks are usually planned in advance and in some instances can become a regular ongoing programme of respite support. So respite foster carers may find that they have the same child coming to them for a few days every couple of weeks or so. Often, these types of placements are utilised during weekends or school holidays and can last anything from overnight to up to a week.


Whilst some placements can be planned for in advance, there are many situations whereby a child needs to be moved into their foster home at very short notice. In these situations, a child or young person may be coming straight into care from their birth family or possibly from a different Foster Carer. Either way, the fact this this is an unplanned move can bring with it many uncertainties and big emotions for the child or young person coming into the placement.

Children and young people may need to be moved very quickly for the below reasons – please note this list is not exhaustive:

–       Safeguarding/violent or sexual Abuse incidents or allegations

–       Birth parent or current carer taken seriously and suddenly ill or has had a serious accident

–       The child or young person has been “kicked out” or has left their home as they don’t feel safe and have nowhere to go

–       Death of a parent / carer

As an emergency foster carer, you will need to have strong empathy and resilience skills to help a child or young person to process what has happened and to make them feel comfortable within your home whilst they are with you. On arrival they may come with just the clothes on their back or sometimes a small bag of belongings that they have been able to pull together quickly (in these instances clothing grants may be available to allow you to purchase some) and and will most likely be scared and feeling very alone. Where possible we will always place siblings together although we know that sadly sometimes this just isn’t possible. Emergency foster placements can become short term placements where the child can stay with you whilst investigations / assessments are completed, however for Foster Carers who want to remain as emergency only, we would seek out a suitable short term foster home and we would work together to create a planned transition for the child or young person.

Sibling Placements

There are many requests from the Local Authorities for Foster homes that can welcome siblings. These kinds of placements are always needed and to be frank, vital! Children who are coming into care are already losing so much of what they know, it’s scary time which is full of uncertainties. Being separated from siblings, particularly if they have a close bond, can add to the feelings of grief and anxiety they are already experiencing. Often, they’re concerned about the safety and wellbeing of their sister or brothers and this can prevent them from settling into their new foster home. Additionally, it cant be guaranteed that their separate foster homes will be in close proximity which can make important things such as spending family time with their siblings difficult.

Sadly however, it is sometimes just not possible to keep siblings together. This may be due to the large number of siblings in one family, or there are times where due to serious sibling rivalry its actually sometimes safer and more beneficial for the children’s progress to have separate foster homes, but quite often this is due to the shortage of foster Carers who have enough room in their home to accommodate two or more children, hence the need to recruit and train more fostering households that can provide Sibling placements.

Our weekly payment that is provided to Foster Cares is paid per child, so in cases where you may have two or maybe three children in your care you would be paid a separate weekly payment for each child accordingly. (see more about foster carer payments here add hyperlink)

In order to offer sibling placements – you must be able to meet the following criteria:

–       Have a spare room available for each child (unless it has been confirmed by the Local Authority that the siblings are able to share a room

–       Have the ability to transport the children to potentially different schools, clubs etc

–       Have the time and energy to dedicate to caring for more than one child and each of their individual needs.

Solo Placements

A Solo placement is where the Local Authority have assessed a child or young person and a decision has been made that in order to meet their needs best, they would be better suited in a foster home where they are the only child. This can be due to a variety of factors including but not limited to, the child or young person being very shy and nervous, prior relationship issues with siblings or other children, their presenting behaviours or the amount of one to one time and input they require from the foster carer.

For foster homes that are only approved for one child this would have no particular impact and as such would be considered a standard placement, but where a child who has been assessed as needing a solo placement, is matched to a foster carer who is approved for more than one child, the weekly payment made to the Carer will be higher on account that they will be unable to take in a second foster child. (No Foster Carer would be able to take on a Solo placement where they currently have another child in the home be that a birth child, an adopted child or another foster child)

Staying Put

Although not technically a type of fostering placement, its important that our Foster Carers know and understand what Staying Put is and how it is of benefit to the young person in their care. Once a young person reaches the age of 18 they are no longer considered to be a foster child, rather they become a care leaver. An adult in the eyes of the Local Authority. With that comes the end to their foster placement with you. However it is widely recognised that ongoing support provided to a young post their 18th birthday has a further impact on their progress and development into adulthood.  In the same way that some parents may not want their child to move out on their 18th birthday, many Foster Carers feel the same about the young people they care for, particularly if this has been a long term placement. Staying Put is a support mechanism that is aimed at looked after young people who may require an extended period with their foster carer(s) due to delayed maturity, vulnerability and/or in to complete their education or training. With staying put in place, a young person can potentially stay with their Carer up until the age of 21.

There are things to keep in mind, for example, now that they are classed as an adult, if you are continuing to foster other children they will need to have the same background check completed as other adults within the home. As you are not a Foster Carer anymore for the young person after their 18th birthday you will no longer receive the fostering weekly payment, however as plans are being made for a staying put arrangement, discussions will take place between yourself, the agency and the local authority to explore what other options of financial support may be available.